Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay University Freshman Commits Suicide After Privacy Invasion with Hidden Camera

Piscataway, New Jersey – An 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge September 22 after his roommate live-streamed his sex session with another male using a hidden camera.  The New York Daily News reports that Tyler Clementi, a renowned young violinist who had just enrolled at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, left his car on the New Jersey shore, walked to a spot on the George Washington Bridge near the New York side, and plunged to his death in the Hudson River.  His body has not been recovered.  Authorities say that he left a suicide note.  His roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, posted that Clementi had “asked for the room” at midnight, so Ravi enabled a hidden web cam, went to the room of his high school friend, Molly Wei, and switched on her computer to live-stream Clementi’s tryst.  Wei is also 18 years old.  “I went into Molly’s room and turned on my webcam,” Ravi posted.  “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”  The Twitter post went out on the internet on September 19, three days before Clementi’s suicide.  Ravi and Wei, both from Asian American extraction and Rutgers freshmen on the Piscataway campus, are charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy under a New Jersey law.  Illegally collecting or viewing images showing sexual contact involving another individual without that individual’s consent in the Garden State is a fourth-degree crime. Transmitting or distributing such images is a third-degree crime. Ravi has also been charged with two more counts of invasion of privacy for his attempt to broadcast another sex session Clementi is alleged to have had on September 21.  Both suspects surrendered peacefully to university police.  Ravi is free on $25,000 bond.  Wei was released on her own recognizance pending prosecution.  The top penalty the two web-voyeurs could receive if found guilty as charged is five years in prison for each count.  Officials of the university are making no comment on the alleged crimes so long as the investigations are proceeding.  Clementi is remembered as a wonderfully gifted musician.  His parents have been devastated, and are making no comment to the press.  Apparently the shock of being outed in such a public and humiliating way led him to such despair that he could not bear to live.  As Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin said, “It’s not just high school kids being bullied and humiliated to their deaths.”

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, cyber voyeurism, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, New York, suicide | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dallas Police To Investigate Cedar Springs Area Ball Bat Attack as a Hate Crime

photo courtesy Dallas News

Dallas, TX – In an important change in attitude and approach concerning the late Friday night/Saturday morning assault on two gay men by bat swinging attackers, the Dallas Police Department has released a statement dated May 17 indicating that the case is to be investigated as a “hate crime.”  Apparently, a combination of rational reasoning and responsiveness to a groundswell of protest in the LGBT community led authorities to change course on this dangerous incident just two and a half blocks from the main gay entertainment district in Dallas.  The Cedar Springs-Wycliff corridor has been particularly violent in recent months, and has a particularly bloody history of anti-LGBT attacks and murder stretching back over two decades.  Historically, homophobic elements have targeted gays and lesbians in the “gayborhood,” and this most recent attack is an ominous sign that young men who are hateful, ignorant and insecure are coming to the neighborhood to locate victims again.  Police initially told WFAA.com that the baseball bat beating of  Kyle Steven Wear and his companion Alex would not be investigated as an anti-gay hate crime, since the pair were robbed. Both victims reported to police and the media that they were not only assaulted physically, but were subject to hate speech during the attack, being called “faggots” among other derogatory slurs by their assailants.  Most current merchants and visitors to the gay entertainment district are unaware that the Oak Lawn-Cedar Springs-Reverchon Park area of Dallas has been bloodied far too often by violence against LGBT people.  In 1988, John Griffin and Tommy Trimble, two gay men, were picked up at the Crossroads by Richard Lee Bednarski, an 18-year-old high school student from Mesquite, who drove them the short distance to Reverchon Park where he shot them to death.  The judge in the case gave Bednarski only a 30-year sentence for the cold-blooded murders, commenting that the killings were insignificant since the victims were gay.  In 1991, Thanh Nguyen and Hugh Calloway were gunned down by Corey Ardell Burley, 20, and two other accomplices at Reverchon Park.  Calloway survived to testify against Burley, but Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant to the Dallas area, died as a result of his wounds.  Initially, Dallas police refused to classify the murder as hate-motivated, but Burley confessed that he targeted the gay men because they were “weak.”  Jimmy Lee Dean, a self-identified bisexual man, was nearly killed in 2008 by 26-year-old Bobby Jack Singleton and 31-year-old Jonathan Russell Gunter, both of Garland, at the corner of Dickason and Throckmorton Streets. Robberies and assaults by thugs targeting young gay men along the Strip are far more frequent than merchants and residents would care to admit, including an attack on a minor on Cedar Springs in the early Spring of this year whose complaint to Dallas police was minimized because, as one officer told the youth, he was just a “drunk little faggot,” and deserved what he got. It is some measure of hope that the Dallas Police have either chosen to change their approach to the homophobic robbery of the two most recent gay victims of violence in the gayborhood, or have been coerced into it by the growing outcry from the local LGBT community.  In part, the Dallas Police Department bulletin entitled “Weekend Robberies to be Investigated as Hate Crimes” reads: “Early Saturday morning just after midnight, two 28 year old males were walking to a nightclub in the 2700 block of Throckmorton Street when they were confronted by four unknown Latin male suspects. Two of the suspects were carrying bats. All four suspects began to beat the victims with the bats and their hands while robbing the victims of their property. Both victims sustained non life threatening injuries. These offenses are documented on case numbers 134186-X and 134193-X. Based on derogatory statements made by the suspects during the commission of the robberies, these two offenses will be investigated as hate crimes. There have been no suspects identified at this time and detectives are continuing to interview witnesses.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, gay men, gay teens, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dallas Police To Investigate Cedar Springs Area Ball Bat Attack as a Hate Crime

Clergy Call for Passage of Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act on Capitol Hill

Unfinished Lives Project Director, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, delivers the Opening Prayer at Clergy Call 2009

Unfinished Lives Project Director, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, delivers the Opening Prayer at Clergy Call 2009

More than 300 LGBT Clergy and Allies hit Capitol Hill to pray and lobby for the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act and a fully trans-inclusive Employment Non-Descrimination Act.  A new breeze seemed to be blowing in the halls of government.  The Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, directed by Harry Knox and Sharon Groves, coordinated three days of events, May 4-6, 2009.  Among the speakers for the Press Conference were Dr. Tony Campolo, noted evangelical leader, and Dr. Jo Hudson, Rector and Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Hope in Dallas.  Clergy from all 50 states attended.  The Matthew Shepard Act awaits the action of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and chief sponsor Senator Ted Kennedy in order to bring the legislation (which has already passed the House of Representatives by a healthy margin) to the floor of the Senate.  President Obama has publicly indicated that he would sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.  Federal Hate Crimes legislation was first introduced in Congress 17 years ago.  So much has happened since, and so many have needlessly died.  With the Hebrew Prophets, the ministers, rabbis, and priests meeting for Clergy Call 2009 cry out, “How long, O Lord?”

The gathering of large contingents of LGBT Clergy and Allies to lobby for passage of fully inclusive hate crimes federal legislation, first in 2007 and now, has done much to persuade fence-sitting members of Congress that the radical right does not own the religious vote on this issue.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Hate Crimes, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Clergy Call for Passage of Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act on Capitol Hill


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